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Here is a charming, low tech way to amuse yourself during your next natural disaster, power outage or zombie apocalypse.  It may also work to keep small children quietly entertained during family visits this holiday season.  

Paper people are easy to make and customize.  You can quickly put together a complete family.  You can your child can make monsters and fight them in the arena of your coffee table.  Or you can create a race of enlightened aliens or robots and build a new utopia.  You can make characters to star in your next video production.

Lets go!

Step 1: Level 1 - Make a blank

Picture of Level 1 - Make a blank
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To start, make a blank person to see how all of the parts fit together.

  1. Print out, or copy the design sheet onto card stock.  
[ Edit ~  Apparently the design template image lost some detail when I uploaded it.  Here's a link to (hopefully) unaltered template page: http://www.bagchemistry.com/uploads/2/7/5/5/2755727/paperdoll.jpg ]

  1. Cut out the body first. (it looks like conjoined twins)  Don't cut the notches yet.
  2. Fold the body piece in half.  You can glue, or tape it together to make it more sturdy, if you like.  Its not necessary.
  3. Cut out a set of arms, a set of legs, and a head.  (There are two styles of arms.  Try em both!)
  4. Cut your notches inside the guidelines.  If you are using thicker card stock, cut wider notches.
  5. Assemble the pieces as shown in the pictures
  6. Say hello to your new friend!  "Hello Tabula Rasa"

* Some notes. *

Notice that the "chin" is actually the "nose".  And it starts at the top of the forehead.

Notice that the chest overlaps the hips in front. 

You don't need dark outlines. Unless you really want to. You can print this design sheet very faintly and still have guidelines for cutting and embellishing.  

Heavier stock will make a sturdier person, but it will be harder to cut out.  I tried using corrugated cardboard in one version, but I didn't like the way that the edges looked unfinished.

Make the notches very thin to start.  Cut them very narrow to start and make them wider if you can't get a good fit.  (its easier to cut away more than to put back paper you cut off.)

** Extra Bonus Note! **

"Tabula Rasa" is the idea, developed by Aristotle, that people are born without personality, talent or knowledge.  That their brains are effectively a "blank slate".  Tabula Rasa means blank slate in Latin.

Howto2465 months ago

thx love the idea

Gilly9 months ago

This is SO good! My grandsons will love this when they next visit. Thank you.

ianbates11 year ago

This is brilliant.

kracken421 year ago

Amazing. I shall make a paper Kraken. Thank you for this great idea.

Paper People 2013 style
Bitsi (author)  Falcons_Art_Dept1 year ago
These are wonderful! Love Jason, Iron Man and Harleyquin. :-)
Harlequin is actually Lady Ga Ga! Glad you like them!
Bitsi (author)  Falcons_Art_Dept1 year ago
Haha. I guess I'm not too hip. Anyway, the student did a nice job altering her arms and legs.
Falcons Art Department present Paper people 2013 style..
These are made by students of saddle Brook High School
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Oh these turned out wicked cool!! I had campers make them this summer, they turned out well (but alas I did not get pictures). My 4th graders are dying to make them this year, I'll have to share what your class did!
poofrabbit2 years ago
Here are some more to share with ya. :) Today I had a brilliant idea to use this concept, I just love these little guys!
Bitsi (author)  poofrabbit2 years ago
Love the minotaur. I can see that you are really into that greek mythology.

How did you get Atlas to hold the world on his shoulders?
Here is the drawing before I inked.
Bitsi (author)  poofrabbit2 years ago
That's brilliant!
Mythology is a common core standard for 4th grade, so I'm working towards a project for them. :) As for Atlas, I used your basic arm shape, the one that has the arms face up, then created a circle. I slightly bent the cardstock to cut out a triangle then cut out around the inside leaving it one piece. :)
poofrabbit2 years ago
So I need to figure out how to do a cape, any ideas?  I also realized I need to elongate his legs more.....clearly I haven't finished this, but as I was working on it and brain storming ideas for capes I thought I should see if you had any ideas about it. :)
Bitsi (author)  poofrabbit2 years ago
I like him!

Do you have trouble stabilizing the legs when you space them apart like that?

Regarding his cape, maybe you could make an extra piece, that curves up from the shoulder slot and bend it to the ground? It might give you extra stability too. (I was thinking of trying that to make wings for a Doctor Who inspired "weeping angel". :-)
I am at work, but I'll get a better picture later. I'm not completely happy with batman's cape, but it's getting there. These are addictive and I'm almost done with my lesson plan to use this project. :)
Nope no issue with the legs, what I did do was make the cut go up the body more for the leg slot, that helped. I did really push it with Batman I will admit.

Good idea bout the cape, I'll play around with it. Oh you so should make a weeping angel and share pics!
Bitsi (author) 2 years ago
I started an album for the paper people that get posted here. Its over on my facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/BagChemistry
poofrabbit2 years ago
I had to show you my first attempt, I was playing around with this during my planning period today. :)
Bitsi (author)  poofrabbit2 years ago
Too cool! I like it that you changed up the body and arms. and I love the snakey hair!
Thanks I basically used your forms and lightly traced them onto card stock with a pencil then embellished or took away. Hit it with sharpy and cut. :) Then added color, this I can see is ADDICTIVE, because oh yes I'm sitting at home now making more. :) I'm also lesson planning, my students are so going to eat this up!
Jayefuu2 years ago
Very clever, they look like fun :D
Bitsi (author)  Jayefuu2 years ago
I have been having a lot of fun making them.
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Jayefuu Bitsi2 years ago
Nativity version next with a new design for the sheep/donkey?
Bitsi (author)  Jayefuu2 years ago
Ha. Good idea. I'm not religious though, and I would probably offend someone by body-swapping the wise men with the Madonna and the sheep.

I was thinking castle, with knights and kings and queens and jesters.
You could make a really cool chess set with them! Superheros....book characters...man the possibilities are endless! Love this!
Bitsi (author)  poofrabbit2 years ago
I like the idea of book characters! I've done Cthulhu. I should do Sherlock Holmes.
Oh yes! That would be fantastic!!!
Jayefuu Bitsi2 years ago
"Ha. Good idea. I'm not religious though," - Me neither, but I bet a lot of people would like a nativity that they could print and draw with their kids. Would probably get a lot of views.

The castle idea sounds good :D
dismissie2 years ago
This is such a great instructable- thank you!
gumcrazy2 years ago
Really fantastic idea! thank you for sharing it with all of us!
Bitsi (author)  gumcrazy2 years ago
Thank you. It so cool that people are enjoying it.
monsterlego2 years ago
Forget kids, i want to do this
Bitsi (author)  monsterlego2 years ago
Let me know what you make! :-)
ClareBS2 years ago
Excellent instructable. Clever, cute and clearly explained. Something anyone could do and everyone will want to make. Thanks.
Bitsi (author)  ClareBS2 years ago
Thanks for your kind words.
CaseyCase2 years ago
This is a really fun instructable. Thank you for spending the time sharing it with us!
Bitsi (author)  CaseyCase2 years ago
Thanks. I appreciate it. :-)
poofrabbit2 years ago
Very neat idea! I'm going to play around with this idea for one of my classes. :)
Bitsi (author)  poofrabbit2 years ago
I would love to see what your kids make.
I promise to take pictures and share :)